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January 1905

[Scottish Railway Incidents (1905) Contents]











   The close of the year has been marked by a number of tragic occurrences. At Glasgow nine persons dropped dead while celebrating the New Year, while an old man met with a frightful death at Forfar station. In the vicinity of Stanley a young man had a marvellous escape by falling from an express train, which was travelling at fifty miles an hour. Several other distressing accidents are reported. 






   A shocking affair took place at Forfar Railway Station on Saturday afternoon, when a bleacher named David Thomson lost his life under most tragic circumstances. 

   Shortly after three o’clock the unfortunate man, who had been attending the football match between Forfar Athletic and Dundee Wanderers, had occasion to visit the railway station. Thomson was on the south side, and it was his intention to cross to the north platform. A goods train was then standing in the station and he had to creep under the waggons in attempting to get over. When under the waggons the train moved off, with the result that Thomson sustained frightful injuries, both legs being severed from the body. Before the train was brought to a standstill two waggons and a van had passed over him. 

   The station officials rendered every aid, but the injured man succumbed a few seconds after the accident. Some time before the mishap Thomson was in conversation with his son, who later on witnessed his father’s body being removed on the ambulance litter. Deceased was seventy years of age, and resided at 163 East High Street. He leaves a widow and grown-up family, for whom the greatest sympathy is felt. 

   The tragedy caused quite a gloom amongst many of the spectators who attended the football match. 





   An exciting incident took place at Forfar Railway Station on Saturday afternoon, in which a young soldier belonging to the town narrowly missed losing his life. It appears that the young man was bidding goodbye to an acquaintance leaving for the south, and was in the act of shaking hands with him when the train started, and the soldier fell down between the platform and footboard. A porter named David Ellis, who was standing near, realised the danger, and immediately went to the soldier’s assistance, succeeding in extricating him from his perilous position and raising him to the platform. The soldier was dragged fully twenty yards by the moving train, and but for the curve at the platform must have lost his life. 

   The incident, occurring as it did not long after the fatality earlier in the afternoon, created a painful sensation at the station. Ellis’ promptitude undoubtedly saved the man’s life. 






   John Whyte, a young man, son of ex-Councillor Whyte, Alyth, had a most marvellous escape from death on Saturday afternoon, he having fallen from the 3.50 p.m. express, Perth to Aberdeen, while the train was running at something like fifty miles an hour. 

   When the train was in the vicinity of Stanley Whyte, who was travelling from Camelon to Alyth, feeling a little sick, essayed to put his head out of the window of the carriage door, and in doing so the door opened, and Whyte was precipitated from the train to the permanent way. Whyte’s wife, who accompanied him, and other fellow-passengers awaited in frenzied excitement the first stopping of the express, which was Coupar Angus. Here the party boarded a south-going goods, and, arriving at the place of accident, found Whyte lying in an unconscious state, and bleeding profusely. 

   Ambulance and surgical aid was speedily summoned, and subsequently it was considered that Whyte might stand the journey to his father’s house in Alyth. Thither he arrived about 8.30 p.m., and an examination made by Dr Philip, Alyth, on Saturday night and again yesterday revealed Whyte’s injuries to be – Left arm broken, right arm and leg injured and rather torn by coming in contact with the slag on the line, and some comparatively slight injuries to the head. Whyte yesterday was as well as could be expected, and Dr Philip is sanguine of his ultimate recovery. 




   A distressing New Year’s fatality occurred on the Waverley route of the North British Railway yesterday morning. A middle-aged man had been walking on the railway between Newbattle and Gorebridge, and was knocked down by a Falahill pilot engine. The officials at Hardengreen were the first to fear something was amiss, as the engineman found a cap on front of the engine. The mangled body was found near Victoria cabin. 

   Deceased had met a terrible death, part of the head and right foot being severed. The body was removed to Gorebridge, and still awaits identification. It is supposed the man was a visitor from some other part of the country. 

– Dundee Courier, Monday 2nd January, 1905, p.5. 

   THE FATALITY ON THE RAILWAY NEAR GOREBRIDGE. – The body of the man found on the railway line on Sunday morning near Gorebridge, and which was removed to the police station there, was identified yesterday afternoon by his widow as that of James Brown or Whitehead. Deceased belonged to Leith, and left his home early on Saturday. He was an engineer, but had lately been only occasionally employed on account of dull trade. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 3rd January, 1905, p.4. 

   HAMILTON J.P. COURT. – … – James Hendry, miner, Clyde Street, Newton, was sentenced to fourteen days’ imprisonment for attempting to commit suicide by cutting his throat on the railway siding at Clyde Street, Newton. The Fiscal (Mr Robert Weir) said that Hendry had been drinking for some time, and had been a source of anxiety to his landlady. 

– Hamilton Herald and Lanarkshire Weekly News, Friday 6th January, 1905, p.4. 

   FATALITY ON THE RAILWAY. – On New Year’s (Sunday) morning, a man was found lying dead on the N.B. Railway near Redheugh Bridge, a point about 500 yards from the Victoria Signal Cabin. It is presumed that he had been killed by a pilot engine which passed about 12 at midnight, as the driver – David Murray – discovered a cap on the left front lamp-holder of his engine on arriving at his destination. Following on his information, a sharp lookout was kept all the way from Galashiels, when the discovery was made at Redheugh as stated. On Monday afternoon the deceased was identified as James Henry Brown Whitehead, aged 40, an engineer’s fitter, from 14 Commercial Street, Leith. How deceased got on to the railway will probably remain a mystery. 

– Mid-Lothian Journal, Friday 6th January, 1905, p.4. 

   A man killed on the Berwickshire Railway, near Chirnside, on Monday night, has been identified as John Cossar, labourer, Coldingham, unmarried, and between 30 and 40 years of age. Cossar had been attending the poultry show at Chirnside, and was walking home on the railway. He was subject to fits, and is supposed to have been overtaken by a fit and fallen on to the rails, and been thus caught by a passing train. 

– Strathearn Herald, Saturday 7th January, 1905, p.2. 


   In the offices of the North British Railway Company, Edinburgh, yesterday afternoon, the bronze medal of the St Andrew’s Ambulance Association for saving life on land was presented to Mr Alexander Miller, stationmaster, Polmont, by Lord Provost Sir Robert Cranston. This was the first occasion on which such an award has been presented in Edinburgh. Dr G. J. Beatson, Glasgow, chairman of the St Andrew Ambulance Association, recounted the circumstance of Mr Miller’s bravery. On October 8th last, a train was starting from Polmont Station, when a young man fell between the carriages on the line. Mr Miller, who was near, seeing him lying between the rails and the platform, with his head on the former, jumped into the four footway, and as the train started managed to get the man’s head off the rails, and lie down himself, not, however, without the bottom of the carriage grazing his back. The shouts of those on the platform having caused the engine-driver to pull up, the rescuer and rescued were removed from their perilous position after one or two carriages had passed over them, when the latter was found to be stunned. He soon recovered, however, and neither was the worse for the experience. It was only Miller’s bravery which saved the man’s life at the risk of his own. 

– Aberdeen Press and Journal, Saturday 14th January, 1905, p.4. 

   FIRE AT OBAN. – Yesterday, shortly before 5 P.M., the timber projections on the north gable of the railway workmen’s houses at Alma Crescent, were observed to be on fire. The station staff with their extinguishing appliances were very soon in attendance, and the town brigade also promptly appeared, and between them they succeeded in extinguishing the fire before serious damage had been done. The fire originated from a defective flue. 

   FATAL RAILWAY ACCIDENT. – Yesterday morning, a young man, named Buchanan, eighteen years of age, was knocked down by an engine while shunting operations were going on at Kincardine Railway Station. The left arm and left leg were dreadfully lacerated, and the unfortunate youth was removed to Alloa Accidents Hospital. It was found necessary to amputate both limbs, and Buchanan only survived the operation until afternoon. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 17th January, 1905, p.4. 

   CARLUKE. – A fierce storm of wind was experienced in the Carluke district for the past two days – the most severe that has prevailed for some years. The roads are fine and dry, but the air is piercingly cold. The drying nature of the wind had been very evident along the railway lines. The grass being quite dry, sparks from passing engines ignited it all along the embankments, and the glowing embers were fanned into flames by the wind. The frequent glare of the flaming embankment presented a striking spectacle to passengers going past. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 17th January, 1905, p.5. 

   COLLISION ON THE NORTH BRITISH RAILWAY. – Last night a collision occurred on the North British railway at Chirnside, the through passenger train from Duns running into a goods waggon which had been blown on to the line just when the passenger train was approaching. Fortunately, the train had slowed down to enter the station, but the force of the impact threw the engine and carriages off the line, and they were very considerably damaged. Fortunately, all the passengers escaped without injury, and were able to continue their journey in a relief train sent from Berwick. A breakdown gang was immediately sent to clear the line. 

– Scotsman, Tuesday 17th January, 1905, p.9. 

   Outside the joint station at Aberdeen last night a collision occurred between a Caledonian and North British train, by which several persons were injured. One train, the North British, had been drawn up at an advance signal owing to the section ahead being blocked, when the other, also going south, suddenly rounded the curve and ran full tilt into it. 

– Greenock Telegraph and Clyde Shipping Gazette, Tuesday 17th January, 1905, p.2. 

   ACCIDENT AT ROGART STATION. – Last night a distressing accident occurred on the Highland Railway at Rogart Station, whereby Mr Duncan Campbell, the wool mills, Rogart, was severely injured. It appears that Mr Campbell was a passenger by the 2.45 p.m. train from Wick, and while crossing the line at Rogart Station he was run down by the 12.25 p.m. goods train from Inverness. Medical aid was at once summoned, and Mr Campbell was removed to the Golspie Hospital, where his left arm and right foot had to be amputated. 

– Northern Chronicle and General Advertiser for the North of Scotland, Wednesday 18th January, 1905, p.4. 

   A SAD TRAGEDY. – A calamity, at once tragic and melancholy, occurred in the neighbourhood of Mulben late on Tuesday night or in the early hours of Wednesday morning. About a mile and a half to the west of Mulben station a body was found on the railway on Wednesday by a surfaceman. The head was completely severed from the body. On Tuesday Simon Cameron, a young lad belonging to Keith, and employed in the Town and County Bank, Elgin, disappeared. A letter addressed to his father was found in his lodgings. It was couched in the most pathetic terms, stating that he intended taking his life as it was a burden to him and there seemed no prospect of it improving. The body found was identified as that of Cameron, and it was never doubted that the unhappy lad had taken that method of ending his existence. He was a quiet, industrious youth, much given to studying. With his superiors at the bank he was a great favourite, his honesty, diligence, and ability endearing him to them. Much sympathy is felt for his parents on the sudden and tragic blow which has fallen upon them. 

– Northern Scot and Moray & Nairn Express, Saturday 21st January, 1905, p.5. 


   An Elgin bank clerk named Simon Cameron (17), belonging to Keith, mysteriously disappeared from his lodgings, and his decapitated body was afterwards found on the Highland Railway line near Mulben. In a letter addressed to his father deceased said – “Excitement has been the cause of me going off my head. My life is not worth living, and I see no prospect of my getting better.” 

– Strathearn Herald, Saturday 21st January, 1905, p.2. 







   An accident involving considerable damage to rolling stock occurred yesterday afternoon at what is known as “The Plunks” on the Wemyss Mineral Railway. The scene of the accident was at the junction of Messrs Bowman & Company’s lyes with the line of the Wemyss Colliery Company. 

   A train of empty waggons from Methil, it appears, was proceeding to the Michael Pit, with the engine at the rear, Through some mistake the points had been shifted without the knowledge of the driver, and it ran on to Bowman & Company’s line, dashing into a coal-laden train coming from the Isabella Pit. 

   The driver and stoker each had a narrow escape, leaping from the engine just a minute before the impact, which derailed the engine and several loaded waggons. The empty waggons were piled on the top of them. Several of the vehicles were smashed into matchwood, and the engine will have to undergo extensive repairs, the buffers and the boiler in particular being seriously damaged. 

   The damage is estimated to amount to £700. 

– Dundee Courier, Wednesday 25th January, 1905, p.4. 





   A most unfortunate accident which terminated fatally befell a little boy named John Murray, four and a-half years of age, son of William Murray, miner, residing in Old Town, Broxburn, while travelling homewards from Edinburgh by rail last Saturday evening. The father and son, along with some other people, were occupants of the compartment of the special Saturday train, which leaves Edinburgh at 8.38 p.m. and runs to Bathgate, calling at stations on the route; and while between Gogar and Ratho the lad, who seems to have been amusing himself, ran up against one of the doors of the compartment, which at once flew open, and the boy toppled over on to the rails. Unfortunately being a special for a short distance. there was no communication cord attached to the train, and it could not be brought to a stand-still until it arrived at the platform of Ratho Station. By this time a goods train had passed on the up-line towards Edinburgh, and as that was the side which the lad had fallen out on the worst fears were entertained for his safety. The father and a station porter, however, at once set off along the line, and when he had got back for a distance of about a mile the father found his boy lying on the metals over which the goods train had just passed. He had evidently been run over by this train, his right leg being doubled up and almost severed in two places (above and below the knee) while his right arm was also fractured, and the right side of his head bruised. He was alive when found, but could not speak, and he died in his father’s arms seven minutes afterwards. The father procured a cab at Ratho and drove home with the boy’s corpse. 

   The news of the accident soon spread throughout Broxburn after the arrival of the passengers from the train, but at that time the boy’s fate was not known. When it was ascertained afterwards the utmost sympathy was expressed on all hands for the sorrowing parents, who are well known and much respected in the district. 

   The funeral took place to Uphall Cemetery on Tuesday afternoon, and was largely attended. 

– West Lothian Courier, Friday 27th January, 1905, p.6. 

   Lecturing in Edinburgh to the workmen connected with the North British Railway, Mr Norman D. Macdonald, advocate, said that the first trace that he found of a railway in Scotland was one called the Monkland and Kirkintilloch, which dated as far back as 1769, but for a good many years later locomotives were not used on that line. In 1826 the Edinburgh and Dalkeith railway, commonly called the “Innocent Railway,” was opened, and was worked with horses down to 1845. The original idea of a railway was something on which people put their own carriages, or waggons, and paid the company for haulage. 

– Kilsyth Chronicle, Friday 27th January, 1905, p.2. 

   RAILWAY FATALITY AT CAMBUSLANG. – A man named Grant who resided at 52 Old Rows, Newton, wandered off the platform at Cambuslang Railway Station on Saturday night, and was knocked down and instantaneously killed by the nine o’clock south express from Glasgow. 

– Edinburgh Evening News, Monday 30th January, 1905, p.6. 

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